MAINTENANCECHAIN WEAR & TIPS On this page we would like to give you some tips for maintenance and usage, which we follow ourselves.
This will help you prolong the chain’s life and improve its performance.
A new Chain
Usually the chain feels a little sticky on it’s outside, you can remove it with a cloth containing some (non-aggressive) cleaner. It prevents the chain attracting dirt.
When to maintain your chain?
Maintenance depends very much on the conditions you ride in, obviously wet, off-road, dusty or muddy conditions
require a more intensive schedule than dry and smooth roads.
Signs to look for:
- increased noise level (dry rattling chain)
- reduction of shifting function;
- chain-suck (chain sticking to the small/middle front chain ring);
- squeaking noises from the drive-train.
For road use, inspect your chain at least once every month or every 250 kilometres (150 miles).
For off road use, inspect your chain at least once every 100 kilometres (60 miles).
|Use a piece of dry cloth.||Cleaning the bearing ends.|
|Lubricate the chain ends.||Lubricate the rollers.|
- Clean your chain after every ride, especially after riding in the wet.
- Always use a piece of dry cloth to clean the chain.
- Do not forget the sprockets, front changer and derailleur pulleys.
- To remove mud or sand, use the bristle brush (which comes with every 120ml packing of KMC’s chain lube Pro), use light soapy warm water, if necessary.
- Do not use acidic or alkali based detergents (such as rust cleaners), these can damage the chain and may cause breakage.
- Do not dip your chain in (aggressive) degreasers - they remove the remaining grease from the chain’s bearings, and may cause cracks. They are also bad for our environment.
- If the chain is really dirty and difficult to clean, besides using a brush for the inside, try putting some solvent on a cloth and use it to clean the chain’s exterior.
- Try to avoid a so-called ‘chain washing machine’ in combination with solvent. This will instantly ruin your chain.
- Some lubricant brands advise you to completely degrease the chain, KMC does not recommend this.
Regularly inspect your chain for:
- surface condition (rust etc.)
- Lubricate the chain whenever necessary and after you clean it.
- Before lubricating, make sure the chain is dry.
- Use a lubricant which initially penetrates the chain’s bearing. In this way you can reach the chain parts which are most sensitive to wear.
- Make sure you are using the appropriate lubricant - if using an aerosol you should test it by spraying some on your hand - first it feels like water (penetration), after some time it should become sticky or dry (durable lubrication), KMC recommends it’s Chain Lube Original.
- In order to avoid a build-up of excess grease, apply it to the critical places only, like the rollers. This helps to reduce chain wear and noise.
- Apply just a little grease on the rest of the chain to prevent rust.
- Remove excess grease from the outside of the chain by using a cloth, this prevents a build-up of dirt and dust.
- Prepare for wet and muddy, or dry and dusty conditions, by applying some wax after lubricating the chain.
- In the case of derailleur bikes, use the same principle as above for maintaining and lubricating the derailleur pulleys, chainrings and cassette sprockets.
Before re-connecting your chain, clean the chain ends inner bearings to make sure no dirt remains, then apply some grease inside and on the connector’s pins.
Finally test the chain by running and shifting the gears, to make sure the system functions perfectly.
In general, one of our Long Life or Hi-performance (X and X-SL) chains will give you the best durability and performance.
We are often asked: “How many kilometres can I expect out of a chain?”. Well, according to our road test results, there is a wide range of chain life varying from 1000 km (heavy duty MTB) to 17000 km (Road Racing).
Obviously chain wear depends on the individual circumstances:
- usage (performance, shifting frequency, chain line);
- conditions (terrain, wet, dry, mud, water, salt);
- rider’s strength;
- degree of maintenance.
KMC’s X-Series chains have been extensively tested, and compared to other brands, we can confidently say that you will not be disappointed; we even have a unique satisfaction warranty on many products!
Prevent unnecessary chain wear
To obtain the maximum mileage from your drive-train irrespective of the type of chain, simply:
- follow our maintenance tips;
- when shifting, try to keep the chain in as straight a line as possible between chain wheel and cassette (i.e. do not use the extreme positions like the smallest chainring and the smallest sprocket, or the largest chainring and the largest sprocket);
- when shifting, try to anticipate a situation (i.e. when going uphill, shift up early in order to prevent excess force on the chain when having to change gear);
- before stopping, shift to smaller chainring, to avoid having to shift from stand-still.
To check the chain’s elongation
A worn chain has a negative effect on your drive train, not only a loss of shifting function, but when extremely worn, you even risk breakage.
Replacing your chain regularly ensures optimum performance, reduces wear on your chainset and sprockets and avoids any nasty shocks.
If you do not have a gauge to test the chain’s elongation you could roughly check by put the chain on the outer chainring and lift up the chain from the middle of the ring - if you can lift it more than half a link, the chain or chainring, or both, are probably worn.
KMC has developed two chain checkers, the Regular Chain Checker, which can give you a good indication of the chain’s condition, and a special digital chain wear indicator, the ‘Digital Chain Checker’, which allows you to exactly measure the chain’s elongation.
Changing the chain on time (not too early and not too late) prevents excess wear on other drive-train parts, so you can prevent unnecessary high repair costs.
|Regular chain checking||Regular Chain Checker|
|Digital Chain Checker|
In general KMC recommends checks at the following intervals:
- road use and riding in the dry: every 500 kilometres (300 miles)
- off road use or more demanding environments: every 150 kilometres (100 miles)
Note: The chain life varies; it depends on the product you use, the circumstances you ride under and the maintenance you adopt.
“A chain is a chain,
they’re not so different”
We hope that after reading this, you have become aware of many different applications, treatments and qualities involved in a seemingly simple product, a chain.
This ‘simple’ chain - consisting of roughly 650 single parts - is probably one of the most important, hi- tech and crucial parts of your bike.
When it functions well, you are not aware of
its existence, but when there is something wrong, you will either be annoyed with the loss of performance, the noise, or even worse, a breakage.